One obvious conclusion would be that we have too much stuff! A recent Telegraph article quoting the Great British Wardrobe Report commissioned by Ariel found that on average Brits spend £1,042 on their wardrobes per year. An average woman (man) owns 95 (56) items of clothing and only wears 59% (62%) of them regularly. Thanks to convenient online retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo and discount chains like Primark and TK Maxx, it became really easy to shop. Marketing specialists employ an army of influencers and social media tricks to encourage us to take our credit cards out. It's true that many speak today of sustainable fashion and decluttering, yet overall we are the generation of walking wardrobes, shoe collections and shopaholics. I truly hope the humans have peaked, and that the next generation will opt for a capsule wardrobe of sustainable, breathable and colour-changing variety.
Zooming into London, future anthropologists would probably take note of the sheer variety of garments. One could spot a Sikh wearing a turban, an American tourist with a Harvard sweatshirt, an Italian with a fitted monogrammed shirt and a Nigerian woman in a bright dress heading into church on a Sunday. Personally, I stopped taking any special notice of unusual outfits on the streets of London. To me, diversity here is a given.
Zooming even further, I would probably nominate my friend James for a future anthropological case study. You see, James has recently bought two pairs of vegan shoes. (We used to call this "fake leather" but veganism has crept into all sorts of aspects of our daily lives.) The scientists would determine at once that James was a dapper vegan who worked in the City (who else wears brogues?).
Perhaps it's too early to talk about the historic significance of the 2017 fashion. Instead, I'm inviting you to travel back to Russia in the 1990s. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and Russia was tentatively trying out free trade. The first wave of Russian solopreneurs travelled to Turkey and China where they had bought lots of cheap textiles and brought them back to Russia in giant zipped plastic bags. Open-air markets sprung near train and bus stations all over Russia. Solopreneuers displayed their goods with even less thought that Primark or TK Maxx do today. Even in harsh winter months women would try on dresses and jeans in makeshift changing rooms behind a plastic curtain. Visiting such markets became the favourite pass-time not least because for once in their lifetime, former Soviet citizens were overwhelmed with choice.
Inevitably, women opted for brightly coloured clothes, as if to banish their grey-coloured Soviet past. Counterfeit designer garments with frequently misspelt labels were a popular choice. I too had a bright green crop top with black letters D&G imprinted on my chest. It was mildly scandalous to wear that to school at the age of 15 but most teachers had no will to fight our obscene taste. They also shopped at the same markets, and perhaps looking at young girls in mini skirts and tucked-in checked shirts, they secretly wished that they too had had a chance to dress so boldly back in the days.
Men were undoubtedly the main victims of the 1990s fashion in Russia. Many wore sweatpants and trainers to the office or on a night out. A must have accessory in those days was a golden chain - its thickness signalling the relative importance of the wearer. Mafia boys in Ekaterinburg wore ludicrously thick gold chains with newly cast orthodox crosses and matching thick golden bracelets.
Curiously, despite all that newly found abundance, people still wore the same things. I remember that at some point many girls wore identical black, stretchy miniskirts; then we swapped them for thin and shiny black leggings. Men bought tight-fitting, black, wooly hats which acquired an obscene name pidorka (I dare not translate it). I suppose that we may have evolved since the cave days but tribalism is deep in our DNA as is the desire to belong.
Thankfully, Russian dress sense has recovered, and I dare say that you'd spot more stylishly dressed women on the streets of Moscow than London today. My biggest regret is that I haven't kept any of the gems I had worn in those days. I'd open a museum called "Russian Fashion of the 1990s" where one could try on garish outfits and take Polaroid pictures home. There'd be queue, I tell you!